ARC Review: Take the Lead by Jaqueline Snowe

Special thanks to Jaqueline Snowe for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Take the Lead (Central State #3)
Published: 28 June 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Falling for my fake girlfriend was never part of the plan…
Daniella Laughlin might seem put together in her dance gear and captainship, but on the inside, she’s figuring out who she is without her mom’s beauty pageant influence. Constantly being critiqued and set up by her mom, she dreads going home for the holidays.

Enter her best friend’s older brother, hockey captain Gabriel Van Helsing. Dani and Gabe have been friends for two decades, and sure, she’s harbored a secret crush on him forever, but she never acted on it because his sister would’ve killed her. Gabe’s a player, on and off the ice, and the longest relationship he’s had is with his hockey stick. He offers to drive her home for Thanksgiving break and proposes the most bonkers idea—they should fake date until New Year’s to get her mom to leave her alone.

Gabe might wear the C on the ice, but he’s always been passive. Here for a good time, never rocking the boat. But after his latest hookup wouldn’t take a hint, he uses Daniella’s predicament for the perfect solution: if he was unavailable, people would leave him alone.

Things begin easily with their friendship, but with every touch and fake kiss, Daniella can’t hide her feelings anymore. And for Gabe, who sets deadlines for every fling he’s ever had, he struggles to fight for what he wants. When their timeline is up, Daniella’s insecurities clash with Gabe’s inability to commit. For two people terrified to take a chance, they must risk their decade-long friendship for a shot at love.

TL;DR: Take the Lead was such a good time and there’s something about Snowe’s romances that is just fun and enjoyable, not to mention fantastically steamy! This new adult college sports romance served tropes that I really enjoyed including: best friend’s brother, friends-to-lovers, and fake dating. The chemistry in the romance was amazing and the friendships even better. I loved Dani and Gabe together!

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ARC Review: Sweeter Than Honey by Joy Avery

Special thanks to Montlake for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Sweeter Than Honey (Honey Hill #2)
Publisher: Montlake
Published: 28 June 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

A talented baker and a small-town sheriff forced into a fake relationship decide whether to take a chance on love in this delectable romance from Joy Avery.

Baker extraordinaire Rylee Harris has a recipe for everything—except love. It’s been five years since she lost her husband, but romance is still a struggle for Rylee. In her small hamlet of Honey Hill, North Carolina, Rylee knows she’ll be the talk of the town when she finds someone new.

To ease her mother’s worries about her love life, Rylee impulsively invents a fake relationship with the only man who’s caught her eye: the town sheriff, Canten Barnes. It’s supposed to be a secret, but secrets don’t last long in Honey Hill. One bit of gossip leads to another, and soon the whole town thinks Rylee and Canten are an item.

As Rylee and Canten embark on a make-believe relationship to save face, they slowly realize that their feelings for each other aren’t fake at all. Can Rylee and Canten keep the charade going—or will the town’s prized baker and respected lawman take a real chance on love?

TL;DR: There was a lot about this small-town romance between the sheriff and the baker that I really enjoyed, but certain aspects made it a little difficult for me to really get into. While I definitely had fun with all of the characters and our main couple, I’m bummed that I didn’t enjoy this one more; although I do feel like I’m in the minority with this feeling. Sweeter Than Honey had: brother’s best friend/best friend’s little sister, friends-to-lovers, fake dating, and a small-town setting complete with meddling parents and nosy and gossiping elderly folk.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Sweeter Than Honey by Joy Avery”

ARC Review: The Devil You Know by Elizabeth O’Roark

Special thanks to Valentine PR for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: The Devil You Know (Devil #3)
Publisher: Elizabeth O’Roark Books
Published: 23 June 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

There’s a devil on my shoulder, and every Monday morning she announces herself. She’s this delicious flame in my chest, a flurry of whispered suggestions in my ear. Suggestions I ignore…because every single one of them is about Ben Tate.

Ben—Stealer of Clients, Evicter of Homeless Women, Nemesis. Sitting across from me every damn Monday with his lovely, smug smile and his too-perfect teeth, the living symbol of everything I hate. It’s been my policy to avoid him, but when a case comes into the firm—one that could change his career and mine—I make an exception. It means weekends and evenings by his side. It means enduring his smirk and his smart mouth and never taking the bait.

Until the night Ben says, “Beg.”
And that devil on my shoulder decides to make a few demands of her own.

TL;DR: This was probably my favourite book in the series so far. This is a rivals-to-lovers office romance done so perfectly! I absolutely loved Ben and Gemma’s snippy banter, their insanely hot chemistry that could set the world on fire, and the way they built trust and a relationship together. Seriously, SO GOOD that it will have you swooning hard!

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ARC Review: Fake It Till You Bake It by Jamie Wesley

Special thanks to St. Martin’s Press for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Fake It Till You Bake It
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Published: 21 June 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

A reality star and a cupcake-baking football player pretend to be a couple in order to save his bakery in this sweet and sexy romance from Jamie Wesley, Fake It Till You Bake It.

Jada Townsend-Matthews is the most reviled woman in America after turning down a proposal on a reality dating show. When she comes home to lick her wounds, Jada finds herself working at San Diego’s newest cupcake bakery, Sugar Blitz, alongside the uptight owner and professional football player Donovan Dell.

When a reporter mistakenly believes Jada and Donovan are an item, they realize they can use the misunderstanding to their advantage to help the struggling bakery and rehabilitate Jada’s image. Faking a relationship should be simple, but sometimes love is the most unexpected ingredient.

Fake it Till You Bake It is a sweet confection of a novel, the perfect story to curl up with and enjoy with a cupcake on the side. 

TL;DR: This was such a delightful romance and while I did have some issues with it at the beginning, I’m so glad that I ended up loving it as much as I thought I would! Jada and Donovan were such a great couple and their romance made me so giddy. If you love fake-dating, great banter, fun playful chemistry between H/h, and A FOODIE ROMANCE, I would recommend picking this up. Also, prepare to get hungry and crave cupcakes while reading this because all the flavours sounded *exquisite*! 🤤

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ARC Review: Defiant Heart by Brighton Walsh

Special thanks to Wildfire Marketing Solutions and Brighton Walsh for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Defiant Heart (Starlight Cove #1)
Publication Date: 14 June 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

(3.75 pandas)

I’ve slapped my cuffs on Luna Lancaster too many times to count and not a single one was for fun.

As the sheriff of Starlight Cove, I shouldn’t crave her, but I do. She’s chaos, mayhem, and sunshine wrapped up in too-tight yoga pants. The lawbreaker might have the town enamored with her free spirit, but she’s a thorn in my side, even if she is the sexiest woman I’ve ever seen.

I want her out of my town and out of my head.

Trouble is, she’s made it perfectly clear she’s not going anywhere. And her spree of minor infractions—who runs a yoga class without a license?—is hitting dangerously close to home. Her latest protest has her chained to a tree on the boundary of my family’s resort. The last thing we need is bad press ruining the short tourism season when the resort is already one bad month away from bankruptcy.

I’ll do whatever it takes to save Starlight Cove. Even if that means handcuffing Luna to my bed.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Defiant Heart by Brighton Walsh”

Romance Mini-Reviews: Enemies-to-Lovers/Hate-to-Love Edition

Hi, friends! I’m excited to share two mini-reviews for romances I’ve read and loved in the last few weeks. I picked up Moon Shot on a whim because I’ve enjoyed the few Tara Wyatt romances I’ve read so far and this was so much fun! Falling for the Enemy is the second book in Katie Golding’s Malibu Millionaires series and I loved it. It’s a bit more on the erotica side of romance but I liked the balance of steamy + heartfelt.

Goodreads: Moon Shot
Publication Date: 18 August 2020
Genre: Sports Romance
Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Dallas Longhorns manager Javier Flores’ plate isn’t just full—it’s overflowing. Not only is he focused on taking the Longhorns to the World Series this year, but he’s also fighting his ex-wife for shared custody of his two daughters. He doesn’t have room for distractions, even if he is lonely. But when he wakes up beside his nemesis, sports agent Aerin Stone, the morning after a few too many drinks at a wedding reception, he is definitely distracted.

Aerin knows better than most what it’s like to have her heart ripped into a million pieces. She knows what it means to have her entire world crash and burn. And she knows that she’s better off alone, even if she did have the best sex of her life with Javi Flores. It doesn’t matter how good it was, because it can’t ever happen again. After all, she doesn’t even like him. He’s too uptight, too bossy, too sexy. Too dangerous. Too risky for her wounded heart.

But one night isn’t enough to quench the pent-up lust burning between Javi and Aerin, and for once they agree on something: they want more, even if it’s the worst idea either of them has ever had. Because everyone knows what they say about the best laid plans… 

My chaotic self jumped straight into book four of the Dallas Longhorns series without reading the other ones (gotta love standalone romance series) but it’s safe to say that it was a success! There was little that I didn’t enjoy about this—the character development, the chemistry, and the banter were all great! This does involve an ex-partner that kinda became the OW, which I didn’t particularly enjoy, and it did involve Javi’s kids from his first marriage, which was okay and an understandable part of the conflict. The third-act conflict was a little irritating because why on earth did this man make such a stupid decision in the first place? It felt a bit out of character for him which was frustrating considering how much he knew it’d impact Aerin’s feelings. Thankfully, it wasn’t overly angsty and it resolved in a minimally dramatic way.

Aerin and Javier were two jaded twin souls who fit so well together, despite starting off as enemies, and I loved seeing them go from not being able to stand each other to frenemies with benefits and eventually to lovers. Their chemistry was seriously incendiary and holy wow, THE STEAM. If you love your H’s with a bit of a filthy mouth in the bedroom, you’re in for a treat with dirty-talking Javi cos the mouth on this man? 🥵 It is a little sex-heavy at the beginning but it does balance out with more getting-to-know-you moments and sweet romantic gestures in the latter half. Overall, I really enjoyed this and thought it was a fun time. If the other books in this series are anything like this then I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy them all!

Goodreads: Falling for the Enemy
Publication Date: 17 May 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotica
Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

Sometimes, the perfect guy…
Is the one you hate the most.

Jasper Brooks has everything—with his smooth-talking ways and devilish good looks, he’s signed some of the hottest bands of the moment. If only he could get the wrong-number woman he’s been texting for months to reveal herself.

Blake Harris absolutely hates Jasper with every fiber of her being. Avoiding her professional rival is next to impossible in the Malibu music scene, and when a new band puts them head-to-head, their pent-up frustration explodes in a raw session of hate sex. A mistake they keep repeating.

With feelings spinning out of control, Blake bolts back to the mystery man in her phone, determined to finally meet Mr. Perfect. Not realizing that all along, she’s been secretly falling for the enemy… 

Ever since Katie Golding shared a sneak peek of Blake and Jasper earlier this year I’ve been super excited to read their story. I had a feeling I’d love the rivals to lovers and hate to love you vibes and I was not wrong—this was everything I was hoping it’d be and more! I enjoyed The Forever Night Stand but it was too insta-love and insta-perfect for me, but in this one, I felt the tension and chemistry from the very beginning.

I thought the balance between the softer getting-to-know-you moments and the steamy scenes was great in this book. Yes, there are still lots of wildly steamy AF scenes that set my Kindle on fire (holy wow, these two! 🥵) but those moments with them simply talking and falling into a comfortable and easy routine melted my heart. I’m realising lately that I’m a sucker for those domestic moments with couples just doing their thing together at home (cooking, hanging out, etc.) and this served on that front!

Jasper and Blake had such amazing chemistry! Oof, I loved their antagonistic rival banter at the beginning and the way their emotional connection grew stronger each time they’d get intimate. I also really loved the epistolary moments via text messaging which played into the “You’ve Got Mail” retelling aspect. Save for one aspect that plays into the “conflict” between them, I really appreciated their openness and honesty and how they let themselves be vulnerable with each other. I also liked that although there’s a bit of conflict, there is no third-act breakup. There was still enough tension and angst to keep the stakes high and to keep me invested in how things would play out though. Even with some ‘insta’ moments I didn’t mind because of how invested I was in both Jasper and Blake and I just really loved them individually and together! I’m definitely eager to read more from this series (and I do hope we get more).

Do you like the enemies-to-lovers/hate-to-love trope? What’s your favourite book with this trope? Have you read these books or are they on your TBR?

First Lines Friday – 10 June 2022

Happy Friday book lovers! We’re back with another First Lines Friday, a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? Here are the rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

First lines:

“Dev Deshpande knows the exact moment he started believing in happily ever after. He is ten years old, sitting cross-legged in his living room, staring up at the television in awe at Ever After. It’s like the stories he reads before bed, tented under Star Wars sheets long after his parents have told him to turn out the lights—stories about knights and towers and magic kisses.”

Do you recognise the book these first lines come from?

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ARC Review: So Not Meant to Be by Meghan Quinn

Special thanks to Meghan Quinn and her team for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: So Not Meant to Be
Publication Date: 07 June 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance, RomCom
Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Am I friends with JP Cane?
Ha! That’s laughable.

Besides the fact that he’s adopted some far-fetched notion from the movie When Harry Met Sally that says men and women can’t be friends and work together, it’s safe to say we’re not friends. He’s annoyingly loud, obnoxiously handsome, and has made an art out of poking all my hot buttons . . . multiple times a day.

So you can imagine how disgruntled I am when I not only have to fly to San Francisco with him for work, but stay in the same penthouse. Yup, we’re sharing the same air, twenty-four-seven. We’re talking full-fledged working roommates. The man doesn’t know what it means to wear a shirt, thrives off protein bars, and you guessed it, moans loud enough for people to believe he’s Meg Ryan in a restaurant.

Spoiler Alert: I WON’T be having what he’s having.

Tack on his continuous flirting and his polished good looks, and I’m caught staring down the barrel of a seductive temptation that makes it hard for me to sleep at night.
But guess who can control herself? This girl.
Because if there is one thing I know for certain, it’s that JP Cane and I are so not meant to be.

  Download today or read for FREE with Kindle Unlimited!

Continue reading “ARC Review: So Not Meant to Be by Meghan Quinn”

Cover Reveal: Take the Lead by Jaqueline Snowe

Hello, hello, friends! I’m so excited to be sharing a cover reveal with you today for Take the Lead by Jaqueline Snowe. I read into the hints that the author dropped for this couple in From the Top, the second book in her Central State series, and I’ve been looking forward to their romance ever since! I have a feeling it’s gonna be a fave!?

Related: Check out my review for From the Top!

Now without further ado… Check out this awesome cover! 😍

TAKE THE LEAD COMES OUT ON 28 JUNE 2022
PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY!

Continue reading “Cover Reveal: Take the Lead by Jaqueline Snowe”

Cover Reveal: So Not Meant to Be by Meghan Quinn

Hi, friends! I hope everyone is doing okay.

I’m back with another cover reveal on the blog today and I have to admit that it’s a few days late because for some reason the email ended up in my spam (so annoying, welp) but I found it and decided to post it asap! This cover reveal is for an upcoming release by one of my favourite rom-com authors. I adored the cover of the first book and enjoyed the romance as well, but I’m so even more excited to share the cover of the second book because I have a feeling I’m going to love it more and it’s also awesome! The colour is bold and popping, and the added graphics are cute, plus, the model is a looker. 😉

On that note, feast your eyes on the gorgeous cover for So Not Meant to Be by Meghan Quinn!

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY!

Continue reading “Cover Reveal: So Not Meant to Be by Meghan Quinn”